Alex Newell looked pretty in pink at the 2021 Critics' Choice Awards, but the process to arriving at this effortless Dara Senders design proved to be quite a challenge — like with all creative problem solving under COVID-19 restrictions.

"Working with the team to create this look for the Critics' Choice Awards was a whole new experience given the pandemic," says Newell, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for the NBC series Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. "I am in Vancouver filming, the designer in Paris, the stylist in Los Angeles, my publicist in New York."

Therefore, the gender non-confirming actor's team had to come together to make this happen without ever being in the same place by collaborating entirely over Zoom, FaceTime and email, "which in a way was like online shopping but having it fit custom to your body across the world," Newell adds.

The entertainment powerhouse continues, "You don't get to see it before, so you just pray it all fits and that you like the color and then it arrives and fits like a glove. That's what getting ready for an awards ceremony in the middle of a pandemic is like."

For Senders, the designer "who celebrates all curves" behind Newell's couture pastel pant suit, this experience was one marked by many firsts — not only her first time outfitting a nominee for this specific red carpet, but her first time accomplishing something this big virtually.

"Creating Alex's pink satin peplum power suit remotely between three countries, in less than one week from start to finish, with limited resources and very strict work guidelines in Paris due to COVID-19, without the ability to fit Alex in person have all been very interesting tasks," Sender says, before concluding: "When creative minds come together everything is possible."

Stylist Christina Pacelli finished Newell's CCA outfit with strappy Stuart Weitzman heels and reiterates the challenges of arriving at a strong, final look under quarantine. "Dara worked in Paris to construct the Bespoke suit, while I was in Los Angeles to oversee the look coming together including the perfect accessories," she says. "All fittings took place via Zoom and FaceTime."

While Newell didn't win in his nominated category (congrats Daniel Levy of Schitt's Creek), the evening was still a tremendous feat. "In the end I had a beautiful garment that made me feel just as beautiful as it is," Newell says, while Senders adds: "Together with Alex, I hope to express how fashion in every way imaginable is and should always be inclusive."

Photos courtesy of Sergei Bachlakov/ Dara Senders

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